October 06, 2010 13:05
The number of children abandoned due to their parents' separation, divorce, illness, or crime doubled over the last six years.
According to figures submitted to main opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Choi Young-hee by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the number of children put up for foster care to grandparents, relatives or other family members as parents were incapable of raising them jumped from 7,565 in 2003 to 16,086 in 2009.
Separation of parents and divorce were the most common reasons for child abandonment with 28 percent and 32.9 percent. Six out of 10 children were sent into foster care because the parents split up. Only 14 percent went back to their original family when their parents reconciled.
There is also a shortage of counselors looking after abandoned children, with one counselor in charge of 237 children. The comparison with other countries is stark -- in the U.K., the ratio is 1:50-60, in the Netherlands 1: 25, in the U.S. state of Maryland 1: 20, and in Australia 1: 10.
"Rather than seeking to provide simple care of the abandoned children, we need to devise complementary measures to provide the children with various vocational programs as well as help them form more constructive relationships with counselors," Choi said
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